Quote of the Week: He that is good for making excuses, is rarely good for anything else. Benjamin Franklin
Those darn Kegels! Am I the only one who hates doing them? As a runner and a mother of nine, I realize that the Kegel exercise is crucial if I want to continue to exercise as I get older. Then why do I have such a hard time getting them done?
I have decided it is a little like changing the oil in your car. The results are not visible, and so it is hard to stay motivated to do them. If you have not changed the oil in your car, it still might run just fine for a while. However, if you neglect it for too long, it can cause problems for your engine. The same can be said for the muscles of the pelvic floor.
Physical therapist Barbara Green, who specializes in women’s health issues such as incontinence, says she wished patients would start coming to see her at about six weeks postpartum. Instead, she says most women don’t come into her office until about 25 years postpartum! That is about the time many women really begin experiencing symptoms related to a weak pelvic floor. Like a neglected engine, the pelvic floor muscles have been asked to do a lot of work, and they won’t perform well if they haven’t been properly strengthened.
Dr. Kegel introduced the Kegels as a way to condition and strengthen the pelvic floor. Green says the good news is that a little goes a long way when it comes to the Kegel exercise (for a good explanation on how to do a Kegel, click here). Five to ten minutes a day is sufficient, and the exercises can be done before you get out of bed in the morning. If you are starting out, do a set of 10 Kegels, holding the contraction each time for 10 seconds. Then do what Green calls “quick flicks”. Recruit (or draw up) the pelvic floor muscles and then quickly relax (or drop them down) again. Do 10 – 20 of these for one set. Be careful not to engage your abdominal muscles (although there are some that do use the abs) or your glutes. It takes a little focus and concentration.
Recently my husband, James, and I went to visit our daughter, Mary Kate, at college. When we got into the car, James looked at the service sticker which said we were thousands of miles overdue on an oil change! Yikes! Needless to say, if I am as bad about strengthening my pelvic floor as I am about taking care of my car’s engine, I’m going to be in for trouble in a few years. Anybody have any suggestions for doing those darn Kegels?